Making sure our clients and prospective clients are as informed as possible is vitally important to us. Here are answers to some of our most commonly asked questions. Should you have any that aren’t addressed here or elsewhere on our website, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
What should I expect when going through the MRI process as part of my a Health Nucleus Experience?
The MRI is a multi-sensory experience and takes approximately 60 – 90 minutes, which includes breaks. You will be asked to lie flat with a series of coils placed around your head and body that help in generating high-quality images. Headphones will be provided along with your choice of music, if this is your preference, as well as a series of soothing visuals from which to choose. Clients experience noises of varying pitch and duration, along with normal movement and vibration of the table. Due to the unique nature of this test, we ask clients who are or could be claustrophobic to bring oral sedation with them. This can be prescribed in advance of your visit by your primary care physician. On site, our techs offer a series of calming techniques including aromatherapy, audio and video entertainment, and guided meditation designed to make you as comfortable as possible.
What imaging advances are used for the whole-body, brain and cardiac MRI scan at Health Nucleus?
The MRI scanners are 3 Tesla (or 3T) with the latest hardware and software upgrades to enhance detection capabilities and reduce scan time. These MRI procedures are non-invasive, radiation-free and do not use any contrast dye. This scan provides both qualitative and quantitative measures to establish your own personal baseline. Our full-body, cardiac and brain MRI lasts about 60 – 90 minutes in total. Traditional MRI scanners using conventional protocols, coils and software last two to three times longer, and the images do not contain as much signal and have less spatial resolution.
In addition to using advanced MRI technology, our team analyzes the imaging data with proprietary and specialized algorithms to provide valuable insights optimized to provide:
How does a Health Nucleus assessment compare to an annual or executive physical?
Health Nucleus integrates whole genome analysis with advanced, non-invasive MRI methods and other clinical testing to provide you with an expanded view of your current health. By integrating the findings from the Health Nucleus into your health planning, you and your physician can gain insights in order to preempt risks.
Testing as recommended by your primary care physician and the US Preventative Task Force including mammography, pap smears and colonoscopy are important components of prevention. Health Nucleus is not designed to replace your annual physical – but rather supplement your medical care with integrated insights.
What are the benefits of an annual Health Nucleus assessment?
By participating in an annual Health Nucleus assessment, you may benefit from the following:
What are the steps for a Health Nucleus assessment?
A Health Nucleus assessment includes the following steps:
and family survey: To make your Health Nucleus experience the most
relevant and provide you with personalized insights, we will ask you to
complete health surveys. This allows us to best tailor the results of
What information will be included in the Health Nucleus Genomics Reports?
The Health Nucleus Genomics reports will include any medically significant results, as well as other non-clinical information such as traits. These reports provide insights about your genetic risk for certain illnesses or diseases. Please keep in mind that your genes are not the only deciding factor for whether or not you will develop certain diseases and their influence varies depending on the disease.
The Health Nucleus Genomic Clinical Report provides you with information on known disease-associated genes, including:
ACMG 59 – This section consists of a list of 59 important genes as defined by the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG). If mutations are found in these genes, they should be reported to individuals because of their potential high medical importance and actionability.
Disease risks – This section identifies medically actionable genetic variants associated with significant current or future health risks across 70 complex diseases including:
Pharmacogenomics – This section provides a list of gene variants
that helps to predict your personal responses to 40+ medications, including differences in drug effectiveness and side effects
Carrier screening – This section helps you understand if you are a carrier of 242+ inherited conditions and is useful for family planning
The Health Nucleus Genomic Insights Report provides you with your genetic assessment to understand if your DNA has variants that can increase or decrease your risk for different health conditions including the following:
What’s the difference between Health Nucleus whole genome sequencing and other DNA or genetic testing?
Many DNA and genetic tests examine only small segments of DNA associated with ancestry, traits (e.g., eye color, earwax type, bitter taste perception) and disease risk. With these tests, you only receive information about a small targeted set of DNA changes, or variants.
Health Nucleus performs whole genome sequencing (WGS) – which analyzes over 3.2 billion base pairs of DNA – with high accuracy, and then your HN physicians integrate this data with other clinical information. Health Nucleus Genomics reports provide information on a broad set of variants, including the common, rare and individually unique variations, and their associations with known traits and disease risks. These reports will provide you with an analysis across a broad spectrum of health areas and may help identify risks and provide opportunities to take action to protect and improve your health.
How does HLI use my data?
Data that has been coded or de-identified, meaning all identifying information such as name or date of birth are removed before being transferred from HN to HLI researchers may, for research and be shared with third parties for research purposes in an attempt to understand health and disease. You have the ability to opt out of including your data in this research and may indicate your preferences on the consent documents. HLI will NOT share your individual medical records with any third party without your express permission.You may withdraw your consent to have your data included in research at any time.
How is my privacy and data protected?
We take our clients’ privacy and security very seriously. To protect the privacy of our clients, we are diligent in our compliance with HIPAA and have implemented strict information security controls to safeguard your data. . We have adopted a Privacy and Compliance Program to assure our compliance with Federal regulations and state laws governing patient privacy and health information security.
We will only provide the results of your Health Nucleus assessment to you and your physician (if authorized by you), unless you request in writing for us to provide it to another healthcare provider. We will not provide the information to your employer, any insurance providers nor to any other healthcare provider without your explicit authorization.
Who owns the rights to Health Nucleus client testing data (genome sequencing results, MRI scan results, etc?
Each Health Nucleus patient owns his/her medical record and testing data. Human Longevity has certain legal retention requirements for all clinical and research data.. De‐identified means that all identifying information such as name, or date of birth are redacted. De-identified data may be used by HLI for research, and may be shared with third parties for research purposes. Coded means that the data receives a unique, random code to allow clinicians to reidentify the information for longitudinal studies.
Who has access to the customer data ‐ (e.g. health insurance companies, life insurance companies, government agencies or other)?
Health Nucleus will NOT share your individual medical records with any third party without your express written permission. If you provide your consent, Health Nucleus may share your de‐identified or coded data (which means that we have removed any information that could be used to identify you) with HLI researchers and/or other third parties for research purposes.
Are there any restrictions on who can have a Health Nucleus assessment?
Our Health Nucleus services are designed to provide whole genome and clinical results to adults 18 years and older. If you have a child that you would like to undergo genetic testing, please discuss this with their pediatrician or a genetic counselor.
To assure the safety of our clients, there are a few individuals who may not be suitable for a Health Nucleus assessment. Our clinical team is available to review and discuss any questions to ensure client safety and candidacy for participation.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): employs a powerful magnetic field to create images. For that reason, clients with certain implanted devices, foreign bodies, pacemakers, cochlear. ocular or stem cell implants and/or weighing over 350 pounds are advised to avoid MRI scanning. If you have an implanted device, our clinical team would be happy to investigate if it is safe for MRI scanning.
Whole Genome Sequencing(WGS): Individuals that have undergone stem cell transplants may not be eligible for WGS testing. Please bring any stem cell transplants to the attention of your HN physician.
Coronary Calcium Scoring: Due to the low likelihood of coronary artery disease in clients younger than age 35, we do not recommend Calcium Scoring in this population. While the dose of radiation from the CT scan is small, we feel that there is insufficient clinical justification in our clients < 35.
Women who are pregnant are advised to delay Health Nucleus testing until after childbirth.
Clients with an acute medical illness are not considered ideal candidates for this testing. The Health Nucleus platform is for screening and assessing one’s risk for different diseases, as well as early signals of disease risk. This is not a diagnostic disease testing platform.
See Health Nucleus eligibility requirements
What if I have a family history of disease, such as cancer or heart disease?
The Health Nucleus experience is designed for risk factor
identification and early detection of disease. Health Nucleus focuses on
early detection of cancer, metabolic diseases like diabetes,
cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative disorders including
Health Nucleus can be an invaluable resource for staying a step ahead of diseases with a strong genetic component. With whole genome analysis, we can identify genetic variants that may increase or decrease your risk for different conditions and diseases. Combining these findings with the whole-body MRI scan can provide insights on your current health and uncover early signals of these diseases.
How do my results affect my family members?
As is the case with any genetic testing, if you are at risk for a disease, your family members may also have this same genetic risk. This could impact parents, siblings, children and other more distant family members.
How is my doctor included?
Our aim is to empower you and your primary-care physician to integrate your findings into your ongoing health plan. With your consent, we can include your personal physician in the results sessions, or our clinicians can review your results directly with your doctor.
What if my doctor doesn’t have the time or expertise to participate?
The participation of your primary care physician, or other health specialist is helpful but not required. Our team will walk you through your results and your whole genome report and help you to understand them. We can also review your results with your physician to help him or her understand our findings. If you don’t currently have a Primary Care Physician, we can refer you to our curated network of physicians for your continuity of care.
Will my insurance be accepted?
Health Nucleus services are not covered by health insurance plans. Each patient will be responsible for the cost of Health Nucleus services.
Can I use my Healthcare Savings Account (HSA) to pay for a Health Nucleus assessment?
Please consult your tax professional to understand if your HSA can be used to pay for your Health Nucleus assessment.
Here are a few links on covered expenses for HSAs:
What happens if I need follow-up testing?
IIf there are any significant findings that require immediate medical attention, you will be contacted immediately by one of our clinicians. If warranted and desired, we will connect you with a physician from our network of specialists from Mass General and/or DoctorForMe.ai. When we do uncover an urgent and/or actionable medical finding, we will share test results and review our findings with your physicians with your permission.